The Chronicle's urban design critic, John King, singled out the "studiously green touches" and the "architectural presence," which he called "an industrial campus of wood and steel cradled against steep cliffs in a way that shows how even the least glamorous aspects of modern life can be housed in energetic style."
Located at the foot of an abandoned rock quarry that later served as a city dump at the eastern end of Schmidt Lane, the city's Recycling and Environmental Resource Center was designed by Noll & Tam Architects, with a key role played by firm architect Tad Costerison. The facility was built by Pankow Builders.
The center, which had its on Earth Day, April 22, replaced the old recycling center, an agglomeration of dented, rust-rimmed bins and time-worn sheds and shelves that had been gradually expanded from its beginning as a few barrels and sledgehammers wielded by glass-smashing volunteers in 1972.
One of the headlines on the Chronicle story Monday in the paper's print edition said, "Recycle center sturdily stylish."
"The energy comes from how the details are arranged: the concrete base angles in toward the V-shaped beams, which angle out towards the parking area," the article said. "The roof sections above the recycling bins slide down toward the parking; the roof of the exchange center kicks up toward the quarried cliffs."
The writer objected to the view that only certain types of buildings, such as museums, as worthy of admiration.
"In fact, there's no reason modest buildings can't shine," the article said. "Simple materials and streamlined budgets, deployed with creative efficiency, can leave a lasting mark. That's what El Cerrito has pulled off on top of a long-gone dump, and other cities should take note."